© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bailey cites experience in and out of office in race for Missouri attorney general

Andrew Bailey poses for a portrait at St.Louis Public Radio on July 8,2024.
Sophie Proe
St.Louis Public Radio
Andrew Bailey poses for a portrait at St. Louis Public Radio on Monday.

Before he became Missouri's attorney general, Andrew Bailey served in a number of roles — including combat veteran, security guard, prosecutor and general counsel to Gov. Mike Parson.

Now, as he faces a tough Republican primary battle with St. Louis County attorney Will Scharf, Bailey is hoping that voters see his collective experience inside and outside of politics as compelling.

“I care about the state because it's home,” Bailey said on an episode of the Politically Speaking podcast. “I got to grow up in a Missouri that enjoyed freedom, safety, prosperity. And I want my kids and your listeners' kids and grandkids to enjoy those things as well.”

Parson appointed Bailey to his post in 2022, after Eric Schmitt was elected to the U.S. Senate. Before working for Parson, Bailey worked at the Warren County prosecutor’s office and was also the attorney for that county’s juvenile office. He said his experience in the juvenile office motivated him and his wife to become foster parents.

Bailey served as an Army officer in the Iraq War. He said being a part of that conflict gave him a unique perspective when entering Missouri’s executive branch.

“It definitely taught me the value of strong leadership, bold action and decisive action,” Bailey said. “Politicians do a lot of talking. I like to get to work, and I like to produce results. And certainly that was what was required of me on the battlefield in Iraq. And if I didn't do my job, people were going to get hurt.”

Will Scharf, Candidate for Attorney General of Missouri , poses for a portrait outside the St.Louis Public Radio office on Thursday June 27, 2024.
Sophie Proe
St.Louis Public Radio
Will Scharf, Republican candidate for Missouri attorney general, poses for a portrait outside the St. Louis Public Radio office on June 27.

Race against Scharf

Scharf, who appeared on Politically Speaking earlier this month, is giving Bailey a serious challenge, especially after national groups have poured millions of dollars into political action committees to boost his candidacy.

Among other things, Scharf has argued that Bailey is part of a Republican establishment that’s let conservative Missourians down. Bailey said Scharf’s contention is wrong.

“I'm clearly not part of a political pedigree or an establishment,” Bailey said. “I ended up in Jefferson City only because I started working with the Missouri Department of Corrections and Gov. Parson happened to see me and pulled me up to be on his staff. And so my dedication is to service and to serving the people of the state of Missouri.”

Bailey and his allies have derisively painted Scharf as “Wall Street Willy,” which alludes to the fact he was born in New York and comes from a wealthy family. Scharf said that line of criticism amounts to “silly season.”

Bailey said he’s leveling the attack because Missouri “is home for me, this is where I'm raising my kids — whereas he showed up here with a bag full of money in order to buy a political office.”

When asked whether it was hypocritical to play up how Scharf was born outside of Missouri when he also wasn’t born in the state, Bailey replied: “No, because I grew up with Missouri values in elementary school, junior high and high school here — and then moved home here when I got out of the Army.”

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Riley Gaines, an ambassador for Independent Women's Voice, hold up a signed “Stand with Women Commitment” during a press conference on anti-trans measures on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, at the Old St. Louis Post Office Building in Downtown. In September, Bailey’s office filed a lawsuit against the Wentzville School Board saying they held discussions regarding policies around the use of bathrooms in private meetings rather than open to the public.
Eric Lee
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Riley Gaines, an ambassador for Independent Women's Voice, hold up a signed “Stand with Women Commitment” during a press conference on anti-transgender measures on Feb. 1 in St. Louis.

A high-profile record

Since taking office, Bailey has made headlines with a slew of high-profile actions — including attempting to get a judge to remove Kim Gardner as St. Louis circuit attorney.

Gardner ended up resigning before any court action, but Bailey said his work played a role in her decision to depart.

“Clearly the circumstances indicate that she resigned because of the lawsuit and because she was about to be ordered to sit for deposition and have to turn over mountains of discovery,” he said.

Bailey said that he would continue to watch out for officials who are derelict in their duties, even if they are Republicans.

“One would hope that we don't have situations where that becomes a necessity,” Bailey said. “But when it does, we're not afraid to act.”

Bailey has also filed a lawsuit against New York over the prosecution of former President Donald Trump over falsifying business records. He contends that “there's a rogue prosecutor and collusive judiciary in New York that are seeking to take President Trump off the campaign trail.”

When asked why he didn’t have confidence that Trump’s case could go through the normal appellate process in New York, Bailey said: “I'm confident the case will be overturned on appeal because it never should have been brought in the first place. But the normal appeal process for an individual defendant takes 18 to 24 months and is inadequate to redress the grievances that Missourians have in the heat of a presidential campaign.”

Other topics that Bailey discussed on the program included:

The winner of the Bailey-Scharf primary will face off against Democrat Elad Gross, who is running unopposed for his party’s nomination on Aug. 6.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.